Abstract

Lithospheric velocity structure and its relationship to regional tectonics and development of the southern Canadian Cordillera are derived from a synthesis of interpretations from nine in-line seismic refraction–wide-angle reflection profiles and broadside data recorded during the Lithoprobe Southern Cordillera Refraction Experiment (SCoRE) and other refraction experiments across southern British Columbia, and one profile in northwestern Washington. Consistency of the SCoRE two-dimensional models at their intersection positions is achieved through application of a simultaneous inversion of all relevant traveltime data. The cross-sectional and map presentations demonstrate the strong degree of three-dimensional heterogeneity within the crust and upper mantle. A first-order characteristic is the continuous increase in crustal velocities westward from the Foreland belt to the Insular belt. The variations do not correlate with the morphogeological belts; they do correspond with large-scale geological and (or) tectonic features and seismic reflection results. Crustal thickness varies from 30 to 48 km; a lack of comparable variation in Bouguer gravity anomalies requires significant density changes in the crust. Variations in the seismic parameters do not correlate well with variations in crustal resistivity or heat flow, suggesting that generalizations relating low resistivities, high temperatures, and low seismic velocities must be treated with caution. Seismic heterogeneities are due primarily to lithological and (or) structural variations and are superimposed on the generally low velocities attributed to the thermal regime. An upper mantle reflector beneath the mainland Cordillera is inferred to be the top of a shallow asthenosphere. Westward flow in the warm asthenosphere interacts with the cold lithosphere of the subducting Juan de Fuca plate below the central Coast belt, forming a "sink" that could provide a driving mechanism for the flow.

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